County of San Luis Obispo Government Center
County of San Luis Obispo Government Center

Board Upholds Planning Commission’s Phillips 66 Decision

Author: Administrative Office
Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 4:24 PM

After input from hundreds of people, the County Board of Supervisors ultimately upheld the Planning Commission's decision to deny the Phillips 66 Rail Spur Project.


The County of San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors voted 3-1, with District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold dissenting, to uphold the County Planning Commission’s decision to deny a permit application for the Phillips 66 Rail Spur Project.

District 1 Supervisor and Board Chair John Peschong recused himself from the Board’s appeals hearing, citing a conflict of interest related to a prior business relationship with Phillips 66.

Two parties – Phillips 66 and Jeff Edwards – appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to deny a permit that would have allowed Phillips 66 to build and operate a rail spur, or an extension to an existing train track, allowing it to import and unload crude oil at its refinery in Santa Maria via up to three trains per week.

The Board held a hearing to consider the appeals over the course of two days this week. More than 150 people spoke during the hearing’s public comment period and the Board reviewed all evidence presented at the hearing, most of which was presented to the Planning Commission hearings on the subject last year.  

The Board’s decision can be appealed to the California Coastal Commission.  Information regarding how to file an appeal is available from the California Coastal Commission.

The Planning Commission held eight hearings last year to consider the Phillips 66 permit application for the project. If it had been approved, each oil train would have been more than 5,100 feet long, consisting of up to 80 tank cars transporting a total of about 2.2 million gallons of crude oil. More than 400 people spoke over multiple days of public testimony during the Planning Commission hearings last year.

The Planning Commission ultimately denied the permit application on October 5, 2016, citing impacts and risks to the community, and inconsistencies with the County General Plan and policies.